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Sidewalk Labs launches Toronto Transit Explorer App

Sidewalk Labs continues to impress Torontonians. The company won a bid to develop Toronto’s waterfront from the eastern section of Queen’s Quay, over to Parliament, into a high- tech hub. Many have shared worries about transparency and security, because the New York-based company has promised to collect data to help improve Toronto living. They will focus data collection on aspects like housing costs, and congestion, in addition to others like safety and development.

The Google-affiliated company has now launched  apps and made them “open-source,” which means they are open to the public. The latest app is Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto Transit Explorer, which was first presented at a public roundtable back in March.

The web application is available on desktop and mobile and takes data from a variety of open data sources, then creates an interactive map of transit in Toronto. This allows users to find out how accessible each form of transit is to them, and to compare which mode of transportation is best for reaching their destination by outlining the time it will take using each option.

 The app shows different colours; anything in blue means biking in that area is the most efficient form of transportation, white means that both transit and biking take about the same amount of time and red means public transit is fastest. Software Engineer Samara Trilling developed Toronto Transit Explorer and spoke about the benefit of the application.

This tool “can be really useful if you’re looking for the most accessible new apartment or a new school or if you want to compare if it’s worth it for you to buy a bike-share membership,” said Trilling.

Although there are a number of transportation modes to choose from on the app, Toronto Transit Explorer does not add the car as a mode of transportation because Sidewalk Labs is focusing on how accessible the city is to people, without the use of a car.

The company shared that its engineering team will build in scenarios in the future to see how changes to transit infrastructure might have an impact on city accessibility.

In addition to the Toronto Transit Explorer app, Sidewalk Labs also previously launched Old Toronto, which is an application that shares the history of Toronto by pairing old photography with landmarks in the city on an interactive map. It was developed by Software Engineer Dan Vanderkam.

Despite worries about security and data sharing, it’s clear that Sidewalk Labs is helping to ease these fears by demonstrating how devoted the company is to enhancing life and experience in Toronto through technology.

Underground Sounds: Auditions for next generation of TTC musicians to begin, grand prize offered by Universal Music Canada

The weekday hustle to get to the office or to a pressing meeting seems to always be made even less enjoyable due to overcrowded streetcars and subway trains, not to mention due to the frequent delays which plague commuters near-weekly. The newly unveiled fund boost offered to Toronto City transit by the provincial and federal government, totaling nearly $9 billion, is hoped to soon diminish these issues.

Until that point, however, one pleasant fixture that exists at many TTC terminals and subway stations, which helps to put a bit of enjoyment in my morning or evening commute, is the soothing music that can be heard as the masses bustle along various platforms.

One of the most congested underground stations is Bloor/Yonge- one which I am a daily visitor to. The talented musicians set up to entertain passengers on this platform, often put a smile on my face. Just the other day, my grumpy demeanor was eradicated and instead was replaced with a smile, when a musician at the said station performed a fantastic rendition of a favourite Springsteen song. My scowl was instantly transformed into a smile as I clumsily sang along.

The TTC is fully aware that commuting is not always a joy in this city, yet the commission continues to seek to bring that bit of musical therapy that can add a pep in your step. This is the reason for its support of TTC musicians. The commission is currently calling all musicians who wish to be added to the current pool of performers, to audition, beginning April 9, 2018.  The auditions will take place online where the public will be able to cast their votes for their favourite artists.

A total of 90 three-year licenses are available from the subway musicians program, which has become known as “Underground Sounds.” Additional incentive comes by way of a TTC partnership with Universal Music Canada. Thanks to this partnership, one lucky winner will get to record their song, that will then be featured in an exclusive Apple Music “Tracks on Tracks” playlist.

Chair of the TTC and the Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council, Councillor Josh Colle, spoke about the impact these talented musicians bring to commuters daily and also commented on the new audition process, which seeks to reach a broader audience online.

“We know Toronto is filled with incredibly talented musicians and this is a chance for some of them to be heard by the 1.8 million customers the TTC moves every day. By moving to an online audition format, we are able to engage our customers, and residents of the Toronto area, and allow them to have a say in who earns one of the coveted licenses.”

Auditioning musicians will post their performances to You Tube between April 9 and May 6. If any musicians are in need of a camera, live auditions will be held on April 18 and 19, after which a created video recording will be uploaded to the audition site.

Online voting, to determine the top 10 qualifiers, will run May 7-28. Those qualifiers will perform live for a panel of industry experts, including representatives from Universal Music Canada, where the grand prize of recording time and a spot on an exclusive Apple Music playlist alongside top recording artists, will be awarded.

“The TTC takes you where you are going. Music transports you to another world,” said Jeffrey Remedios, President & CEO, Universal Music Canada. “This is a partnership designed to invigorate the TTC’s Subway Musician Program with a long-term digital solution, giving more musicians a chance to participate and connecting riders through their passion for music.”

It has been 40 years since the TTC initiated the Underground Sound flavor at various subway stations across the city. As of the fall, there will be 30 stations that are complemented by the sounds of talented musicians.

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Turliuk

Jennifer Turliuk is the CEO and founder of Makerkids, the first and largest facilitator of programs, camps, and parties focused on the idea of creation rather than consumption. Topics like coding, minecraft, and robotics are explored through fun and games, in hopes of encouraging more young people to take interest in STEM-related careers. She began coding at the age of 12 and has dedicated her life to opening up possibilities for young people interested in being creators or makers.

Women’s Post spoke with Turliuk about entrepreneurship, Makerkids, and being a DJ for Redbull:

Question: When did you learn you had a passion for business and entrepreneurship?

Answer: I realized I had this passion early on. I started my first business at age five. It was called Jenn’s Card Company and I made greeting cards

When you finished school, it looks like marketing was your path. What drew you to that part of business?

I love marketing because I believe it can make a huge impact on society. Everything from what products and services we buy, to who we select as leadership, to what we believe – comes down to marketing

Why change and found Koru Labs?

I found myself dissatisfied in the corporate job I took and I wanted to do something meaningful. Marketing has continued to be part of all of my roles though.

As an entrepreneur, have you ever experienced challenges as a woman? If so, how did you push through them?

Yes! I’ve been hit on by men who I thought I was meeting as potential mentors or investors. I’ve been told by organizers, after being selected for a prestigious speaking opportunity or award, “And it’s great that you’re a woman.” I hated that they insinuated that a major reason for selecting me for the opportunity was my gender. Even though it probably wasn’t, them saying “And it’s great that you’re a woman” made me feel as though it was and made the accomplishment feel false or hollow. I pushed through it by realizing that if an award or speaking gig is a great opportunity for my business, I should take it regardless of what the organizers happen to mention about my gender. Why bother to bring up gender? I want to be selected for things because of my accomplishments, not the body type I was born with.

How did Makerkids come about?

When I was 12 years old, I was being bullied and was disengaged at school. Then my teacher said that for my book report project, I should make a website, so I taught myself how to code, and made a website about Harry Potter. A few months later I found out my website had hundreds of thousands of views and was featured in a magazine. This was a very empowering moment for me. Suddenly the bullying didn’t impact me as much, and I became more engaged at school. Later on, I was selected for a program based at NASA called Singularity University, where I learned how to apply technology to education. It was afterwards that I got started with MakerKids, with the goal of helping more kids have transformative experiences like I had as a kid. We’re excited that thousands of kids have gone through the programs and some have started businesses, been featured on TV, and had positive mental health outcomes.

Why is it so important for young kids, young girls especially, to be exposed to the “maker” philosophy?

Studies show that kids decide between ages 7-12 whether or not they’ll consider STEM as a future career option. A positive exposure to STEM experiences is the key.

 How has Makerkids evolved over the last four years? What’s next?

MakerKids has grown from teaching five kids per week in 2013 to 500+ kids per week in 2018. We won the NextGen in Franchising competition at the International Franchise Association as the next top concept in franchising. We learned about the IFA competition and many other opportunities through the Canadian Franchise Association (shout-out to CFA) who have supported us and helped us grow. What’s next? More locations!

 Bria mentioned you DJd for Red Bull? When, why, and how!

Haha, I DJ’d for them for a mini-sticks tournament in Kingston once. I was on top of their Red Bull truck. Very fun! I used to be a DJ in university, DJing up to four times a week.

How have you helped other women?

I mentor other female entrepreneurs, and also many girls go through our programs and benefit from them.

What are you reading right now?

Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life

The secret behind social media couples

As you boast in your chocolates and flowers, and prepare to get jiggy tonight with your significant other, you may also be thinking about ways to aesthetically document everything in a way that will get you the most likes on social media. Whether it be your caption, your strategic ring finger positioning, or a snapchat of bae being bae — it’s time someone expose the truth behind Instagram Couples. Let’s begin.

To all those single ladies scrolling past PDA pics and teddy bears all over your news feed, just know – it’s all fake love. The statement, so eloquently sung by Drake, is also backed up by science. A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently concluded that people who overshare about #bae on social media are also the most insecure about them.

#Yikes.

So, to the couple who stare into one another’s eyes at fancy restaurants three times a week – we see you. And your cry for help. I don’t want to assume your night will end up in an argument over why your significant other’s phone went off one too many times or how the bill is going to be split, but according to science; I have to. And while I want to be empathetic for your situation, the narcissism behind your posts and the way you make my single ladies sob make me not want to.

The secret behind becoming a successful social media couple is to have so much fun with your significant other that you forget to take a picture. It’s to go to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the food while it’s still hot, instead of standing up on your seat trying to get the perfect shot. And the juiciest secret of all? Post so seldom that your followers have to message and ask you how your life is going, in which you can respond ‘great, just busy with #bae!’

That’s not to say you need to deactivate your Facebook account and delete your social media. Your loved ones enjoy seeing highlights in your relationships; whether that be a recent engagement or wedding photos. Sitting at your desk on a cold, winter afternoon can become a whole lot better with a few vacation photos of your favourite couple at a tropical destination.

However, if bae is mad at you and you’re cooking dinner for them – maybe ask for suggestions on what to cook for dinner instead of boasting about a #datenight that’s really another #forgiveme night. Work on your relationship. If your partner photographs that well, I’m sure they look much better in person. Embrace it. Cherish it.

Remember, happiness doesn’t come in the form of likes and retweets. It comes in the forms of smiles and a whole lot of good loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let’s stop hating on women through social media, shall we?

Over the past week, the world witnessed some rather high profile women get into some rather uncomfortable situations. And while life is bound to get messy at times, the problem with modern day society is that spectators are now able to watch the events unfold time and time again, while at the same time adding their thoughts and opinions on the matter — anonymously — through the click of a button.

And while this way of life has brought the world closer together and has provided insight on the mindset of today’s society, it has also allowed people to lack in forgiveness and spread negative dialogue. What hurts the most however, is to see independent, well educated and woke women engaging in the same negative dialogue – to criticize other women. Not only are we pushing the feminism movement back a couple of years by doing this, but we are doing our gender a disservice by dragging our colleagues through the mud.

Just last week, Qandeel Baloch split the world in two after being strangled by her brother because of the “kind of pictures she had been posting online.” Like many of you, I found myself scrolling through the deceased social media star’s Instagram, coming across sexually suggestive pictures and videos of an attractive South Asian woman boldly expressing herself.  The think pieces and blogs flooded my newsfeed, with comments from mourners condoning the death and asking people to take a stand against these types of ‘honour killings’. However, in the same comment section, there were people — many of them women — who felt bad, but understood what provoked her brother to brutally murder her in the first place.

“She was asking for it.”

In a very different situation, the Internet witnessed Taylor Swift being ripped apart by Kim Kardashian West on Snapchat when the reality-tv star posted a telephone conversation between her husband, rapper Kanye West, and what is believed to be singer herself. The topic of the telephone conversation was the allegedly misogynistic lyrics directed at Swift in one of West’s singles. Swift had previously released a statement saying she wished the couple would ”just leave me alone.” Kim, listen up: A hundred years have passed since this shit storm started and Kanye West’s single released. Since then, we’ve already seen you and Swift publicly lash out at each other, while the Internet followed along, taking sides. So why don’t you exclude us from this narrative, and give each other a call?

Because here’s the thing, ladies. There are a lot of women out here that are fighting for your rights and freedom. Women that are currently driving on streets they are not allowed to drive on. Women that are interviewing for a job they are deemed unqualified for. Women that are being utilized for their body without their permission. The least you can do, is offer a little support. They’re not asking for billboards of heartfelt messages with a hashtag, or a protest in lieu of every mistreatment that takes place. However, when someone is strangled to death in the comfort of their own home for essentially being themselves, it is not an invitation to slut shame the victim and justify their killer’s actions. She wasn’t asking for it. No one ever is.

Neither was Leslie Jones; one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie, which has been getting mixed reviews. Jones announced early this week that she was leaving Twitter “with tears and a very sad heart” after receiving racist and sexist abuse that she describes as her own “personal hell.” Her response to the incident was not only relevant to the situation at hand, but also to the events that have occurred in the past weeks regarding social media hate.

Jones called on Twitter to crack down on the hate, posting, “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let spread like that.” She had a few things to say about the negative comments as well. “You have to hate yourself to put out that type of hate. I mean on my worst day I can’t think of this type of hate to put out. I don’t know how to feel. I’m numb. Actually numb. I see the words and pics and videos. Videos y’all. Meaning people took time to sprew hate. I’m more human and real than you fucking think. I work my ass off. I’m not different than any of you who has a dream to do what they love. I’ve never claim to be better or special. I just try to do my job as best as I can. Isn’t that any of us yall. So Yea this hurts me!”

The question arises; how do we overcome this girl-on-girl hate? Social media has evidently fuelled gender violence. Comment sections will make you lose faith in humanity while trending hashtags will encourage you to take part in a social media cleanse. Imagine the difference we could make if women gushed about what they love about other women by merely swapping hate and jealousy for support and encouragement?

A big difference. Let’s start THAT hashtag!

What are your thoughts on social media hate against women? Let us know in the comments below! 

How to lose a guy in ten days: the tech version

Dating has become more accessible since the invention of the Internet and the cell phone, but it comes with it’s challenges. There are potential land mines everywhere — and so many ways to mess up a potential relationship.

How soon should you text him or her back? When should you add the prospective person on Facebook? When should you call instead of text? Here are a few ways this technology can leave your potential partner running for the hills, with their cell phone in tow.

  1. Text five minutes after your first date

Your date has gone well, it had good conversation and you were left wanting more. This is GREAT news! So what do you do next? You text them after you leave, just a little note to remind them that you had a great time. To this, I say no! DO NOT PROCEED, turn the car around. Always wait to text your prospective partner back. It shows that you are confident and in it for the long-run. Texting large blocks of text is another no-no. Basically, wait until the following day and send a casual text that lets the person know you are still interested and otherwise refrain from contact.

  1. Stay glued to your phone while on your date

You have made it to your second date without blowing it via text overload and this is fantastic, but you remain glued to your phone the entire date, checking emails, Facebook, Instagram and maybe even a quick swipe on Tindr. This is another big N-O. Having your phone glued to you while on a date is rude and takes away from the authentic experience of getting to know the person sitting across from you. I take this rule so seriously that even having your phone on the table while on a date will set alarm bells off.

  1. Don’t use cute nicknames too quickly

I am a big fan of using nicknames for people such baby, hun, or darling. I think pet names are endearing though many would disagree. But using them right away is a sure fire way to scare the crap out of a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. Nicknames need to be avoided before a certain point in the dating game otherwise it will come off as clingy or rushed. Once you are sure of the person though, bring out the nicknames and create some of your own personalized versions. It can be quite fun, hunny buns.

  1. Deep and dark texting

Keeping it light and easy via text once you are dating is a good step forward to getting to know someone without being too intense. Asking deep and dark questions to your new lover can be terrifying and set a tone in the relationship that is unnecessarily intense. Certain questions can also denote a sense of insecurity or pessimism when a new relationship should be enjoyable and light-hearted to start. If you feel you have ask to ask serious questions, make sure to do it in person. On the other hand, avoid the excessive use of emojis to lighten the mood. Too many LOLs or smiley-wink faces can be a real turnoff and can make you come across as immature, needy, and just plain weird.

  1. Drunk texting

Breaking out your phone after a few drinks can seem like the best idea ever, but in reality, it is a recipe for disaster. When we text after a few cocktails, the message seems to be the most humorous and interesting thing we could ever say.  Oftentimes, the texts that are sent are less appealing. Keep your phone away from you when drinking so that you don’t feel inclined to send silly messages that you will regret in the morning along with your headache.

If you can avoid texting too quickly, using your phone too often, or breaking your phone out after a few drinks, you may find yourself a dating guru.

What are your funniest technology fuelled mess-ups while dating? Post in the comments below.

LOVE & TECH: It’s time to give up Facebook stalking our exes

Are you a Facebook stalker? I am.

Sometimes I get bored and I check up on the former loves of my life. I tell myself it’s because I’m curious, but it’s not. I wish it was, but it’s really because I want to know that my life is better. It’s sick and a little twisted, but I know I’m not alone here — or at least I hope I’m not.

I actually looked up the Big Ex just to see what his kid looked like. We broke up 3 years ago this spring and now he’s married to the woman he cheated on me with and they have a baby, so of course I was curious to see what was going on. I actually had the nerve to say that the kid was ugly. I mean, it looks like a wrinkly old man, but don’t all babies? Wrinkled and pink, babies resemble naked mole rats without the vicious teeth. Did I need to check in on my ex? No. Should I have? No.

Facebook has made checking up on your ex feel normal when in reality it’s creepy and strange. My life is going so well these days, I’ve got an adorable dog, an amazing boyfriend and a great new job; whether or not my ex is doing well is inconsequential to my happiness, but, like a car crash, I can’t look away. Except it’s not like a car crash at all, I’m not driving by his social networks, I’m Googling to find him. It’s only like a car crash if you regularly search for car crash videos on YouTube.

 

“Facebook has made checking up on your ex feel normal when in reality it’s creepy and strange.”

A picture illustration shows a man looking at the Facebook website on a tablet in Sofia

 

Facebook makes it easy to see who ‘won’ the break-up but in reality you’ve both won; neither of you are with the wrong person anymore, neither of you are wasting your time with someone who doesn’t love you, and neither of you are stuck with someone who is unhappy in their relationship. You both won. It doesn’t matter who initiated the break-up because even if he ended it, I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

Being loved and loving someone in return is infinitely better than being stuck in a relationship with someone who’s just there because they can’t be bothered to end it.

So one of my resolutions for 2014 will be to stop caring about what’s going on with my exes, to stop comparing my life to theirs, and to just enjoy the fantabulous life that I have right now.

The only good thing about seeing how the Big Ex’s life turned out is that he has all of the things I don’t want. I don’t want kids and he’s got one. I don’t want to get married and he’s married. I don’t want to live and work in the suburbs and he does. Our relationship never would have worked out. It was destined to fail and that is comforting.  In fact, looking back on it I wonder how we stayed together for as long as we did, it should have ended a lot sooner than it did.

Thank you Facebook for reminding me of how much better my life is now than it was before, but next time I try and look up someone that I shouldn’t how about you send me an electric shock right through my keyboard.

 

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Founder of Kik Messenger takes stand against LRTs because they don’t look futuristic enough

While Toronto’s subways vs. LRT debates splash against the front pages of newspapers our neighbours in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge to the west have had their own ongoing debates about the future of transit in the city.

The major bus route throughout KW is King Street, and the plan was to run an LRT along it and to reorganize buses in the city to feed into the LRT for better, more reliable, and faster crosstown travel.

The plan, which also includes a multi-modal downtown transit hub, hasn’t seen any major battles erupt like the mention of LRT will garner here in Toronto.

That is, until Ted Livingston decided he was not only an expert at providing a platform for tweenagers to sext each other and perverts, pedophiles to collect child pornography (no, really) but also an expert at transit in Waterloo Region.

His beef? The trains for the LRT aren’t futuristic enough.

His Change.org tirade, which you can read for yourself here, begins earnestly enough as he lets us know that he “only started reading about the specifics of the LRT this past Sunday.” This should be a red flag to anyone reading, as the “specifics” of the LRT have been publicly debated for the past fours years or so, and there also isn’t a lot more ever going on in the news in Waterloo to keep you distracted.

He tells us that he was excited, because trains are cool, that is until he saw a picture of one of the trains. “Not a futuristic train whizzing by overhead, but just a glorified bus running up and down King in a dedicated lane.”

Yes, he’s upset because the train doesn’t look cool enough.

He goes on to explain: “We say that traveling by bus is brutal and that these trains will be so much more comfortable to take, but after two wheels are photoshopped in we will all see that it is simply a shinier bus.”

Oh, that’s right, he photoshopped some wheels onto a concept design of one of the LRT trains going by Grand River Hospital to, um, prove to us that these trains are a lot like buses, maybe?

Waterloo Region and Grand Rvier Transit could also do a lot worse than double length articulated buses like the one Mr. Livingston has photoshopped into existence here.

“Instead of a train we all know and love, we’ll have glorified buses that are just as miserable to take. Because instead of getting cars off the streets and opening our roads, we’ll have closed key roadways and made traffic a mess. And because instead of looking for a unique solution that would actually make commuting in Waterloo fun, we’ll have gone over budget and burdened any future options for decades to come.”

The whole thing reeks of someone who, fresh out of school with a cash cow of an app, has to pay taxes for the first time and thinks that the dedicated lane will make it more difficult to travel around town in his new car. In Toronto he might have a few more fans, but in Waterloo where most people who take public transit are captive passengers, meaning they actually have no choice but to take the bus to work or school because they can’t afford a car, I think he’s going to be a bit hard pressed to find a group of car snobs willing to turn down any step in the right direction.

Ted Livingston, Jim Balsillie you ain’t. Stick to your app instead of opining on Waterloo’s transit.